Healthcare has changed dramatically over the past century. You can’t get children’s medicine with morphine in it anymore and the gap between what looked like rusty gardening tools and lifesaving medical equipment is larger than ever. Oddly though, leeches are still very, very much a thing.
One big change has been around how healthcare services are provided. At the turn of the century, doctors visited their patients at home. This was the norm. But as specialised medicine took hold, hospitals and clinics replaced house calls. Medical technology proliferated as did access to healthcare and people’s expectations to receive it. House calls were hard to scale, and large pieces of expensive and delicate equipment were not ideal for carting around. So, it’s easy to see how the modern medical establishment was born out of necessity and an oath to provide the most care for the most people.
Though this practice-centric approach has revolutionised public health, it’s coming under increased scrutiny and pressure due to a multitude of factors including changing patient expectations, aging global populations, and continuous advances in medical and personal technology, computing, and data networks. Add to these factors the increased costs of providing healthcare.) in hospital settings and it’s clear that as healthcare providers and patients big changes are on the horizon. While the days of the doctor’s in-person house call may be long gone, the idea of more personalised in-home care is not.
The concept of Distributed Healthcare, typically thought of as the networks and services required for providing decentralised healthcare like monitoring vital signs and diagnostic tests, helps move critical services closer to the patient. In turn, this reduces pressures on a healthcare system’s carrying capacity and keeps people in their own home. With Distributed Healthcare it’s about identifying patients’ needs and providing the right care at the right time.